{"id":2577,"date":"2019-02-09T01:11:00","date_gmt":"2019-02-09T01:11:00","guid":{"rendered":"http:\/\/overinireland.com\/?p=2577"},"modified":"2020-11-24T22:42:55","modified_gmt":"2020-11-24T22:42:55","slug":"celtic-symbols","status":"publish","type":"post","link":"https:\/\/overinireland.com\/celtic-symbols\/","title":{"rendered":"19 FASCINATING Celtic Symbols and Their Strange And WONDERFUL Meanings"},"content":{"rendered":"\n

You have probably seen many of them without even realizing or noticing. Some you would instantly recognize as Irish, the shamrock, the Celtic knot, and the harp all have their roots in Irish Culture. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Some are not as easily identified but yet still have their place and deep-seated roots in Irish History. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Here we will examine common and strange symbols of Ireland<\/strong><\/a> and uncover their ancient meanings…<\/p>\n\n\n\n

Where Did the Symbols come from?<\/h2>\n\n\n\n

Ireland<\/strong><\/a> has a far-reaching and intricate history spanning back over centuries. Over the decades it has been invaded and settled by various peoples including Vikings and other invaders. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

It has evolved over thousands of years into the country that we know and love today. Over time, the stories of folklore, tradition, and myth have become intertwined with the country’s history leaving behind symbols and emblems that are instantly identifiable with the country of Ireland. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Some of the iconic marks and characters have tribal roots, some are attached to religion, some are simply emblems of the country. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

We will take look at different ones and explain the meaning for each starting with commonly recognized symbols and working our way through to some of the lesser-known or more obscure emblems.<\/p>\n\n\n\n

Common Celtic Symbols <\/h2>\n\n\n\n

The Shamrock

An image that has become completely synonymous with the Emerald Isle. This 3 leafed green plant has been adopted as the unofficial symbol of Ireland and its association with the country universally accepted.<\/p>\n\n\n\n

The shamrock became famous during the time of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who arrived in 433AD and brought Christianity to the nation. It is said that he used the 3 leaves of the shamrock to illustrate and explain the Holy Trinity to early Christian followers and as an example of the father, the Son, and the Holy ghost. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

But the origins of the shamrock can be traced back to an even earlier time. The ancient Druids also regarded the shamrock as being a token of good fortune. Its leaves form a triad and the number 3 was sacred in the old Celtic religion. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The small green-leafed plant also became symbolic of rebellion during the 19th century and the \u2018wearing o\u2019 the green\u2019 was enough to result in the wearer being hanged if caught displaying the shamrock on their person. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The word shamrock was derived from the original word for the plant of \u2018seamrog\u2019 meaning summer plant. It is also a symbol that is associated with bringing good luck, and if a 4 leaf clover is ever found that it thought to be especially fortuitous. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

It can be seen all over Ireland in present times and is seen being worn and displayed in large numbers the world over on St Patrick’s Day celebrations that occur in March of each year. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The Harp <\/h3>\n\n\n\n

Still played commonly in traditional Irish bands and used as a symbol of Ireland the roots of the Harp as a symbol are somewhat vague. The use of it can be dated back to before the 6th century and evidence of it is present in the written literature of the time. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

It is said that Irish King Brian Boru circa 1000 was an accomplished harp player. Every clan of any importance would have a resident harp player, and that person would enjoy high rank and special privileges.<\/p>\n\n\n\n

When Henry VIII<\/a> became the King of Ireland in 1534, a title that was self-declared, the harp was chosen as a symbol of the country and was stamped on minted coins. Its image became associated with rebellion against England and the crown over the years and the use of the harp became banned. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

In the period following, the tradition of the harp and its music almost died out completely. It was saved when a troupe of traveling harpists arrived in Belfast in the late 1700s and Edward Bunting, a folk musician and music collector, documented the harp music and other details. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The survival of harp music and the traditional Celtic tunes has been credited solely to Bunting as this was the first time that Celtic harp music had ever been written down and preserved. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

From 1922 the harp has been used by the government of Ireland as its state symbol. Now it appears on many logos of Irish based companies. Guinness, Ryannair, Irish Independent Newspaper, and Harp lager to name a few. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

There are only a few surviving harps from the pre-1700 era. The oldest on is on display in Trinity College, and is known as the Brian Boru or O\u2019Neill harp, and it dates back to the 15th century, There are also two harps on display in the Museum of Scotland. One dates back to 15c and the other date is unknown. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The Shillelagh<\/strong><\/h3>\n\n\n\n

Pronounced \u2018Shill-lay-lee\u2019 and it is another emblem that has become uniquely associated with Ireland and its culture. It was a short, stout,  wooden club with a rounded end that was originally a fighting stick used to club enemies. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

It resembles a walking stick and is typically made from oak or blackthorn wood. Wood that was procured from the roots of the tree was preferred as it was less likely to crack or split. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Known in Irish as the \u2018bata\u2019 or stick, this implement is thought to have originated from the village of Shillelagh in County Wicklow. The Shillelagh was historically used for settling disputes, similar to the way of old duels. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Shillelagh fighting evolved over the years and employed various lengths of stick depending on the nature of the fight.<\/p>\n\n\n\n

The Claddagh Ring

This ancient Irish symbol represents everlasting and timeless love. There are several myths and legends that have been attributed to the origins of the Claddagh ring, some involving Irish Kings and peasant girls, others telling of history that involved ancient Celtic gods and eagles. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The most prevailing story of the Claddagh is from the old Irish fishing village of Claddagh, situated in the Galway area. The elements that make up the symbol of the Claddagh are the hands which represent friendship, the crown which represents loyalty, and the heart that represents love. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

The rings origins are said to be from Richard Joyce a goldsmith and member of a Galway tribe that was captured by pirates on a trip to the West Indies in 1675. After he was captured he became a slave to a goldsmith in Algiers who taught him the trade. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

In 1689 all slaves were released by royal decree and Richard Joyce returned to Galway where legend says he created the first Claddagh ring. The ring gained popularity worldwide after the mass immigration of Irish citizens during the potato famine. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Ownership of the ring was prized and passed down from generation to generation, usually from mother to daughter, typically on the daughters wedding day. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

It is used in the present day as a gift to a friend or loved one, or on some occasions as a wedding ring. It was regarded in older times as a \u2018fede\u2019 ring, or a faith ring. These were common during Roman times and usually featured a clasped hands design. The Claddagh ring used these elements and added the heart and crown as symbols of love and loyalty. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

Famous wearers of the Claddagh ring included Queen Victoria and Princess Grace of Monaco, in more modern times and in popular culture the ring was worn by teen icon Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although it was not as a wedding ring, the ring was given to her as a gift from Angel, her vampire lover as a symbol of their love for each other. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

There have been rumors even more recently that Kim Kardashian was bought a Claddagh ring by her husband Kanye West. <\/p>\n\n\n\n

However, the wearer receives the ring it should be noted that there are certain rules or protocol to be followed by the ring-wearer depending on their current situation.<\/p>\n\n\n\n